DRACUT — A Department of Public Works employee fired last week after he was caught taking copper pipes from a Phineas Street home says his termination may have more to do with his role as a union president than the incident in question.
George Metros, 51, of Dracut, worked as a truck driver for the DPW for 13 years. In September, he was accused of stealing the copper pipes. After an investigation by the Police Department, the owner of the pipes agreed not to press any charges in exchange for $150 reimbursement.
“George Metros is no longer employed by the town of Dracut,” Town Manager Jim Duggan said. “After a thorough and documented investigation by the Police Department, it was demonstrated to me that Mr. Metros engaged in unacceptable conduct.”
Metros, who is the president of the local chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union, said he had worked for the town for 13 years without incident and found the timing of his termination suspicious, given that the matter was resolved without criminal charges.
“It was an unjust firing by the town manager, and a week before Christmas, which is kind of unfair as well,” said Metros, adding that he is appealing the decision.
Duggan responded that his decision had nothing to do with Metros’ union position.
“He violated the public’s trust, and I will not tolerate that,” he said.
On Sept. 6, the owners of the Phineas Street home called police to report that a man in a red Chevrolet truck had pulled into their driveway and loaded copper pipes from a barrel by the side of the house into his vehicle.
When one of the residents asked the man who he was and what he was doing, they told police, he identified himself as Gary and said he had permission from another resident of the home to take the copper, according to the police report.
Officers later found a truck matching the homeowners’ description and identified the owner as Metros.
The next day, officers were able to speak with Metros and asked him if he had stolen the copper. Metros responded that he had noticed the barrel of copper at the end of a driveway and had taken it because he believed it was being thrown out, according to the report.
He also told police he had knocked on the house’s door to ask for permission to take the copper, but nobody was home.
The homeowner estimated that Metros took around 150 pounds of copper, worth $300. Metros told officers he sold the copper for between $48 and $52.
After speaking with officers again, the homeowners said they would not press charges if Metros reimbursed them $150, which he agreed to do.
The owners of the home could not immediately be reached for comment.
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